While the United States Capitol Police are trying to restructure and rebuild following last year’s Jan. 6 attack, the new chief said the omicron variant of the coronavirus is depleting the already short-staffed law enforcement agency.
Chief Tom Manger told senators during a hearing on Jan. 6 oversight that the department is down 447 officers from full capacity.
“We’ve got dozens of officers that are out on isolation. We’ve got dozens of officers that have been out longterm with the impacts of COVID,” Manger said. “So it has affected our staffing levels and again, with everything else that all the other staffing challenges that we have, COVID is wreaking havoc as well.”
Manger told the senators that around 70% of staff at Capitol Police have been vaccinated, but “we’re being hit hard by folks both vaccinated and not vaccinated with this latest variant.”
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The discussion about COVID within the department came up during his testimony on the Jan. 6 attack and how to prevent a similar riot.
Staffing shortages was a common problem brought up by Manger and the committee.
Manger said 153 officers have either retired or resigned since the beginning of 2021.
He said the strategy of the department will be to get ahead of officer attrition. It plans on hiring 280 more officers during this fiscal year. They may also look at contract security staff for positions that don’t need armed officers.